08 February 2011

Writing Letters, Notes and Sweet Valentines

I was recently asked why I decided to write a blog... I thought of many answers but the one that came to me first of all was I enjoy writing!

Growing up however I must admit it was not always so. In fact I vividly remember my father drawing lines in a notebook and demanding that I practice my letters over and over again...
I remember only too well the quill and ink well - no bic pen at that time - and my fingers ink stained! I had a little blotter shaped like a Lady Bug too...

Still with the years passing by, I developed my own style and soon enough, I discovered I could put all this practice to good use by writing letters or stories of my own.
And being a dreamer...

Mathematics were definitively not my forte but writing was something I truly enjoyed, the best part of my school years along with History I might add.
A teaser, a flashback or just witnessing the flight of a bird or the playfulness betwixt our Corgi and the Cat, and there I go.
I will never be called an Author of course but it is something I create, something I enjoy and blogging is very therapeutic I discovered as well.
There is something truly satisfying in that tiny key called "Delete" if need be!

Writing letters it is sad to say is not the same as it use to be. Elegant stationery, flowing calligraphy and the pleasure of reading a letter seem to have been relegate to another era! These days you have Emails and E-cards and factory made Greetings cards!

In the not so distant past a Victorian Lady was expected to write letters of many sorts, often to convey the latest news and information, and these handwritten letters were penned carefully.

Letter writing was not just a social obligation you see but a skill a Lady, or a Gentleman for that matter, would be expected to practice if one did not arrive to it naturally, for it indicate fine breeding.
Letters would be judged not only by the elegance of the words chosen but also by their penmanship! These carefully written letters would then be received by a loved one perhaps and tucked away in a drawer, may hap tied together with a special ribbon...
If you are lucky, you might have found such in Grand Ma's hope chest or your Great Uncle's desk...

As Valentine's Day is soon to be upon us I thought of all the wonderful letters and notes written in the past by lovers everywhere!

"The Lovers Letter Writer" for i.e. was a well known Victorian manual containing 66 examples of correct letters writing covering acquaintance, courtship, marriage, friendship, even a formula for a cryptogram meant to be read betwixt the lines! Oh the thoughts that came to my mind...

And if you were a shy suitor you would consult "The Lover's Casket", a 19th Century book of Etiquette to express yourself without perhaps facing potential rejection in person.

Just as in the language of flowers, penmanship and the words it conveyed was very important!
Consider the following to give yourself an idea:

From the poem "A White Rose" by J. B. O' Reilly

The red rose whispers of passion, and the white rose breathes of love;
O, the red rose is a falcon,
And the white rose is a dove.
But I send you a cream-white rosebud
With a flush on its petal tips;
For the love that is purest and sweetest
Has a kiss of desire on the lips.

And less you scoff at the idea to send/receive such lines, remind yourself these very lines are timeless.

Read on!
This poem called "I do not love thee"was written by a lady, Caroline Norton:

I do not love thee! -no! I do not love thee!
And yet when thou art absent I am sad;
And envy the bright blue sky above thee,
Whose quiet stars may see thee and be glad.

And in "Sonnets from the Portuguese" Elizabeth Browning wrote:

When our two souls stand erect and strong,
Face to face, silent, drawing nigh and nigher,
Until the lengthening wings break into fire
At either curving point,
-what bitter wrong
Can the earth do us, that we should not long
Be here contented?

Of course you might pen some sentimental thought in a much modern way but I'll wager the recipient will indeed treasure such a note written on carefully chosen stationery in lieu of a printed card hastily signed...I know what I would choose!

Care to take me on?

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